Black Duke volleyball player alleges racist abuse at BYU game

Race in America

Brigham Young University is a university located in Provo, Utah. It is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

PROVO, Utah (NewsNation) — Brigham Young University said it is still investigating who allegedly shouted racist slurs directed toward a Black Duke University volleyball player.

Rachel Richardson, a 19-year-old sophomore player and outside hitter, said she and her Black teammates were “targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of last month’s match,” which took place in front of 5,000 spectators.

In a statement, she said the slurs grew into “threats, which caused us to feel unsafe.”

Richardson said BYU officials and coaching staff were alerted to the situation during and immediately after the game, “but (they) failed to take the necessary steps to stop the unacceptable behavior.”

Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox wrote on Twitter late on Saturday, “I’m disgusted that this behavior is happening and deeply saddened if others didn’t step up to stop it.”

Attention was drawn to the incident in part by Richardson’s godmother, Lesa Pamplin, who wrote on Twitter on Saturday that Richardson had also been threatened by a white man who told her to watch her back going to the team bus.

“A police officer had to be put by their bench,” Pamplin tweeted. She confirmed the account in an interview with Reuters.

According to The New York Times, BYU banned an individual sitting in the fan section from all future events.

The Salt Lake Tribune, however, reported the school had found no evidence that the banned person was in fact the one responsible.

Richardson said she “very distinctly” heard the slur coming from the student section, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

The University of South Carolina women’s basketball team canceled a home-and-home series with BYU due to the volleyball incident, coach Dawn Staley said.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

Other than a statement to NewsNation calling the incident a “school matter,” the NCAA has not commented.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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